Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2014 Issue

Did the Police Chief Just Put Down Books?

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A safe place to stash your books (from the SFMTA website).

Did San Francisco's Police Chief just “diss” books? We aren't sure what to make of a comment he recently made. Surely, there's another explanation. From everything we know, Chief Greg Suhr is a fine man, an outstanding yet fair law enforcement officer, and loves puppies too. But books?

 

Last spring, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, operator of the city's Municipal Railway (Muni) and buses, announced a program to cut crime on its cars. Its program, in conjunction with the San Francisco Police Department, put more officers on them. The officers were there to stop crime and arrest offenders if necessary, but their primary value was as a deterrent. Thieves tend to be a little more reluctant to steal things when there's a uniformed officer watching them.

 

The major target of these thieves has been smart phones and other mobile devices. Evidently, these things must be easy to sell for a good price. The result was Muni named its project “Eyes Up, Phones Down.” Put that phone away and watch what the guy next to you is doing. Like freedom, the price of a cell phone is eternal vigilance.

 

“Eyes Up, Phones Down” has proven to be a great success. Muni reports that crime on the railway has decreased 30%, and cell phone thefts have declined by a whopping 77%. Mayor Edwin M. Lee announced, “We are reducing crime and increasing security on Muni so riders feel safe moving around our city.” He then went on to point out, “While enforcement is key, we need to take every opportunity to remind riders to be aware of their surroundings and help prevent crimes of opportunity - particularly in cases where thieves are targeting electronic devices.”

 

Chief Suhr went on to elaborate on this point. “We can be even more successful if riders would be more aware of their surroundings when using electronic devices. Maybe read a book while on Muni and wait to use your electronic device. We have no issues and/or concerns with book theft on Muni.”

 

No issues with thieves stealing books? Not even a little bit concerned? Doesn't anybody want books anymore? Is the issue that they are of such little value that losing one isn't worth the effort, sort of like someone stealing a stick of gum from your purse? Here's a piece of advice for the unwary – don't carry a copy of the Gutenberg Bible on a San Francisco city bus. The police are unconcerned.

 

Why is it thieves don't want books? I've thought carefully about this one and reached the following conclusion. It must be that they do not know what they are used for. Everyone knows the purpose of a smart phone, but a book...? What is this strange technology? So, here's some more advice. The next time you take a San Francisco train or bus, bring along a book. It will keep the thieves away. And, if you hollow it out, it makes a safe place to hide your cell phone.


Posted On: 2014-07-04 18:03
User Name: MiRIAMGREEN

As a former curator the Yale Med Hist Collections during the 80s, always found that ignorance was the best defense.


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>Keep Calm and Carry On</i>, designer unknown, 1939. $12,000 to $18,000.
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    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
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    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Abram Games, <i>Join the ATS</i>, 1941. $3,000 to $4,000.
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  • <b>Booth & Williams: NO RESERVE Rare Book Auction, now through July 23, 7:15PM EDT</b>
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  • <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
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    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>

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